- Author: Debbie LeDoux
Are you ready to transform your yard into a more sustainable landscape but don't know the first thing about irrigation systems? Our very own UC San Bernardino County Master Gardener Anita Matlock really knows her “stuff” when it comes to irrigation! She has enough experience and in-depth knowledge about irrigation to teach anyone how easy it is to transition their landscape from spray sprinklers to a drip irrigation system. She has provided numerous in-depth presentations and hands-on workshops that helped attendees increase their knowledge of beneficial irrigation concepts and decrease water usage in the garden.
As a Master Gardener, Anita has been our “de facto” trainer on irrigation systems since 2003. She says, “there are still many people who are unaware of how much water and money they could save by simply swapping out standard sprays and rotors for those with integrated pressure regulation. Communities everywhere continue to face the problem of high water pressure. High water pressure causes irrigation systems to experience a higher water flow rate, which results in wasted water, higher water bills, and damaged system components.”
Before retiring, Anita's professional background since 1991 had been in the irrigation industry. She was familiar with the irrigation concepts related to the "plant, water, soil relationship," but she was not familiar with growing plants. In 2003, she was inspired to join the Master Gardener program because she wanted to learn how to prune grapes and rose bushes. Through the Master Gardener program, Anita learned about growing roses and developed enough expertise and knowledge to teach a rose pruning workshop in January 2020.
Anita says that if you enjoy gardening and want to give back to your community, consider joining the Master Gardener program. You will experience many hours of pleasure spent in your garden while also teaching others about the many joys and benefits of gardening. She also wants to remind everyone to consider joining the UC San Bernardino County Master Food Preservers program if you enjoy growing edible gardens, especially if you grow many fruits, vegetables, and herbs. You will gain a lot of satisfaction from growing your own food, preserving it for your family, and giving your preserved foods as gifts! Joining the Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver programs will open opportunities for you to develop your interests in many different directions and make life-long friends with similar interests and passions.
Anita has used her expertise in irrigation to lead several Master Gardener landscape renovation projects. Her most recent project was in the summer of 2018, at Micah House in Redlands. Along with fellow UC Master Gardeners Betty Richardson, Trisha Fitzgerald, and other volunteers, she participated in transforming a grassy area in the front yard of Micah House into a lovely drought-tolerant garden. Master Gardeners removed the existing lawns and replaced them with drought-tolerant plants watered by a new drip irrigation system. The project was made possible through a grant from the Inland Empire Resource Conservation District (IERCD).
In 2018, Anita donated irrigation equipment to a research project that measured the impacts of gardening on 82 first and second-grade students at Norton Space and Aeronautical Academy, a charter school in an ethnically diverse neighborhood in San Bernardino. It was a team effort with Master Gardeners Loleta Cruse, Jackie Brooks, Robert Simpson, and other community volunteers. The study found that students participating in planting and caring for the garden had greater concentration and group cohesiveness than students participating in other group activities. These positive outcomes corroborated research from several other studies worldwide, linking enhanced mood, feelings of self-worth, improved cooperation with others, and even higher standardized test scores and grades to school gardening.
Anita's previous career in marketing and consulting sales presenting to customers and potential customers, and becoming a Toastmasters member helped her develop the confidence to speak in front of groups. She has presented at Master Gardener events too numerous to list in this article. In 2018, she presented SoCal Landscape Transformation – The Hunt for Water Savings, a workshop at Western Municipal Water District (WMWD).
In April 2020, she presented at a free webinar on DIY water-efficient landscape irrigation hosted by IERCD in partnership with the (San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (SBVMWD.) She led attendees through the ins and outs of retrofitting and drip irrigation to increase their knowledge of effective irrigation practices and help decrease their water usage.
If you are interested in presenting as a Master Gardener but are hesitant to take that first step, you don't need years of public speaking experience like Anita has. She has some great tips to get anyone started. The first step is to study and understand the subject you are presenting. Prepare an outline for your presentation and practice it in front of your family and friends. Here is a great tip that worked for Anita when preparing to present a new topic to her fellow Toastmasters. She would introduce a shorter version to get feedback and gain the confidence to fine-tune her final presentation. Try it yourself and see how it works for you! Don't hesitate to ask your fellow Master Gardeners for help by giving you feedback on practice presentations or co-presenting with you on your favorite gardening topic.
Anita's latest gardening project reflects her interest in vertical gardening. If you have not already “dipped your gardening toes” into this fascinating and fun gardening activity, I highly recommend trying it! I think you will be inspired to try your hand at vertical gardening when you read about Anita's vertical herb and vegetable garden.
In 2003, Anita (and her husband Tony) decided they wanted something more visually appealing to look at while enjoying their patio than a bare wall separating their property from their neighbors. They also wanted herbs to use for cooking that they had grown themselves, so they built a vertical herb and vegetable garden made of wood. After 7 years, the wood had deteriorated. They recently created a new vertical system made of HDPE drainpipe to replace the old wooden system. Be creative and start your own vertical garden using unique and fun materials.
You never know where the path of being a Master Gardener will lead you. In 2003, Anita and her husband Tony started a hobby in home wine making. Anita also decided to join the Master Gardeners program in 2003 because she wanted to learn how to prune grapes (and roses.) Fast forward to 2018, when Anita and Tony decided to take their years as home winemakers to turn their hobby into an encore career to establish their commercial winery. Anita is now an award-winning winemaker and serves as a Board Member of the Yucaipa Valley Wine Alliance. She has provided hands-on training at many workshops on growing grapes and wine making.
UC San Bernardino County Master Gardeners are thankful to Anita Matlock for enthusiastically sharing her extensive knowledge of irrigation concepts that decrease water usage. She is a wonderfully approachable presenter, and we are proud to name her as this month's Spotlight Master Gardener!
I think many of us feel like our gardens themselves are gifts. We give our time to create spaces that are gifts to nature (pollinators, beneficial insects and an assortment of other critters) and to our neighborhoods and families, and if we are lucky, we can even eat and harvest flowers from them for us to enjoy indoors and with friends and family as well. I like to view gardening as a two-way street and see it as more of a journey than a destination. We give our love, our time, our sweat and tears….and our back muscles and money, all to create life around us. We can do it in our “back 40,” at a community garden plat, on our patios, on our windowsills and even in water (with fish) if we grow with hydroponics (or aquaponics!). With all we give to our gardens I think our gardens give back to us tenfold. When we are stressed or feeling overwhelmed the garden is a safe place that does not judge. When we are enduring loss and hardship, we can cry our tears and feel our sorrows in the garden, and in return it can give us solace. The garden reminds us that life goes on, as hard as it seems sometimes, no matter what else is happening…nature just keeps on going….and in that we can find strength. In my garden I find history: plants planted by loved ones that are still here, but we can't be together this holiday season, and plants planted by people that are no longer here. I find the future: what can I fit in my yard next? Perhaps a fruit tree would be great there? Where should I put my food forest for 2021? I find hope: wow, that seed really did grow, and look at it now! Or, oh wow, I remember when that tree was just a few feet tall and now look at then shade and fruit it gives.
If you grow fruits, vegetables, or herbs you probably have already shared gifts from your garden and know all about how rewarding that can be. If you are a new gardener, just wait! It is a challenge, but in a good way, and the Master Gardeners will be here for you throughout your journey, offering free classes on growing food, creating sustainable landscapes and how to just live better, healthier lives, though gardening. We also have our helpline, where you can contact us day or night (but we will call or email you back at a reasonable hour, after we have done some research), with all of your gardening questions and woes. You can even reach out if you just want to share a great success you had (you could even send us photos)!
Here are a few other ideas for gifts from your garden that you can try this holiday season to share your gardens gifts with your friends and families:
2) Three-tiered herb gardens: one of my favorite things to make! Fun fun fun and they are a great way to keep your herbs near your kitchen and healthy and happy! These towers can be made on a small scale as gifts or on a larger scale for your yard (or for gifts that you need to make on site!). The cool thing about these towers are that they will have a drier zone on top for your herbs that need a drier soil, and for the herbs that need a little more moisture they are wetter on the bottom. Also because of their height you can get a little extra shade or sun for your herbs on certain sides depending on how you orient them. Lastly, because they have an “inner core” of soil, they are great insulators that help keep plants cool in the summer and warm in the winter. I can fit between 8 and 12 types of herbs in my towers and they all do great!
My wish to you, for this holiday season, is that you find joy and peace and if you can find a little time to garden too, that just makes the holiday season extra sweet.
Sometimes you meet people that energize you with their enthusiasm and friendly, approachable manner. I recently had this experience when I interviewed Kit Leung, this month's UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) San Bernardino County Spotlight Master Gardener. Kit became a Master Gardener in January of 2019 and has already made many valuable contributions to the Master Gardener program.
One of the many things that makes Kit so special is his generosity sharing his gardening knowledge with others. He believes that sometimes the world is changed by making a difference in just one person's life. He asks himself “what is my sphere of influence and how can I change the world in a meaningful way?” His generosity extends to creating opportunities to promote others. He is a star presenter who likes interacting with others and seeing the “light come on” in other people when he presents. It was a pleasure getting to know Kit. I hope you get the chance to meet him soon at a Master Gardener (online) event!
Kit is not only a great communicator through his presentations, but also through his writing. I interviewed him face-to-face via Zoom and a written questionnaire.
1. You are a great presenter, Kit! I have always enjoyed your Master Gardener presentations very much. Do you have any prior experience in public speaking and presenting? Do you have any tips for Master Gardeners interested in giving presentations but are hesitant to take that first step?
a. Thank you for your kind words. A lot of my work for my "day job" requires presenting virtually and, at times, in-person. I had to learn how to give presentations and speak effectively in front of groups through a Zoom/Webex call or an in-person workshop or presentation. It has taken me several years to become comfortable with presenting. More often than not, I still feel anxious and nervous before each presentation. For anyone interested in giving presentations, I would say some combination of the following could be helpful. Ultimately, it's up to each individual on what they would be comfortable doing, and it will take a little time to get comfortable with presenting:
i. Start off small by giving a short presentation on a topic before undertaking a larger endeavor, such as a full 1-hour workshop.
ii. Choose a topic that you are passionate about or that you are familiar with.
iii. Buddy up and co-present on a topic with another person.
iv. Prepare for each presentation and practice.
v. Solicit feedback after you present and make adjustments for future presentations.
vi. Don't be too hard on yourself. Learn from your missteps and move on.
2. What or who inspired you to join the Master Gardeners?
a. The Master Gardeners of Orange County, who were at the Farm + Food Lab at the Great Park in Irvine, inspired me to become a Master Gardener. I visited the Great Park to have an afternoon out in the early 2010s and came across the Farm + Food Lab. I spoke to a few Master Gardeners about composting and the apple trees they had planted and trained on espaliers. They made a positive impression on me because they were so friendly, knowledgeable, and encouraging. A few years later, when my son was born, I wanted to ensure he ate the most nutritious and freshest vegetables. So, I researched how to start a vegetable garden and recalled my positive experiences with the Master Gardeners of Orange County. I found out that all our local counties had Master Gardener programs, which encouraged me to research which Master Gardeners to join. I researched the local Master Gardener programs and found that the San Bernardino county program held training classes close to where I live. The county itself had many volunteer and service needs and opportunities.
3. What gardening experience did you have before joining the Master Gardeners?
a. I had roughly 5 years of gardening experience before joining the Master Gardeners. We had some unused space in our backyard where some small palm trees and unhealthy citrus trees grew. I converted this space into a vegetable garden to grow food for my family. I have had many years of mixed results but continue to love gardening in my backyard.
4. What is the most interesting gardening concept you have learned through being a member of the Master Gardener program?
a. There are so many. I learn something new every time I hear Maggie, Janet, fellow Master Gardeners, or people affiliated with Master Gardeners (faculty, industry experts, community partners, etc.) Integrated Pest Management stands out as an interesting gardening concept that I have learned about through the Master Gardening program. Knowing that we do not have to immediately spray for pests to manage them is very reassuring. I prefer to garden as naturally and organically as possible since my family and I eat the food we grow at home. Master Gardeners encourage the public to grow their own food!
5. The readers would love to hear about your volunteer activities with the Master Gardeners. Can you share your experiences with the readers?
a. I started off small and gradually eased my way into the volunteer role and increased my involvement over time. I really enjoy learning and trying different things, so my experiences have been all over the place.
i. Helpline: I started by taking Helpline shifts to familiarize myself with the types of questions we get from county residents and the public. This experience also helped me learn about the vast array of resources available to us as Master Gardeners and the public.
ii. Staffed event tables/info booths: I took shifts at various Master Gardeners information booths such as the Ontario Home Show and the San Bernardino County Museum October "Spooktacular."
iii. I worked with fellow Master Gardeners to develop information table materials and kids' activities related to worms and vermicomposting for the San Bernardino County Museum October “Spooktacular” Halloween event.
iv. Started a school garden: Converted an old unused gardening area into a usable garden for my son's elementary school (before the COVID shutdown).
v. Exam Grader: I worked with a fellow Master Gardener to help Maggie and Janet grade Master Gardener trainee midterms and finals.
vi. Online gardening presentations: I recently started working with Maggie to hold online workshops on various gardening topics like ‘Vermicomposting' and ‘Planning a Fall Garden'. vii. Vegetable planting calendar: Created San Bernardino county-specific planting calendar and monthly gardening task resource documents and handouts.
6. Have you done any gardening projects that you would like to tell the readers about? If yes, do you have any tips or advice for anyone who might want to do a similar gardening project?
a. I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience working with Maggie on doing online presentations for our community members. This project has enabled our program to continue expanding the scope of our workshop offerings and educational opportunities despite the pandemic. It has set up the program to be even more successful at outreach to our communities. It has helped us become more agile in sharing information with the public and has expanded our reach during the pandemic.
7. What gardening activities are you most interested in?
a. I am really interested in sustainable landscaping, edible gardens, California natives, and vermicomposting.
8. Have you participated in any other community service or volunteer activities (besides Master Gardeners)?
a. Not really. I used to do annual volunteer activities through my company, like helping at food banks and Habitat for Humanity, but nothing formal recently.
9. Has your Master Gardener experience helped you participate in a gardening project or get chosen for a gardening project?
a. It has helped me to help start a school garden at my son's elementary school. My Master Gardener experience helped show some knowledge and credibility of gardening. It helped reassure the teachers and school administrators that the garden would be set up for success.
10. If someone is considering becoming a Master Gardener, what would you tell them about the program?
a. I would highly encourage them to become a Master Gardener. I would tell them that the experience is worth the time and effort, and our communities benefit so much from the work that we do. In these challenging times, volunteerism is so important to help support our community. Volunteering as Master Gardeners is a great way to promote growing your own food, sustainable landscaping, and healthy communities. Lastly, it is an excellent opportunity for personal development. As a Master Gardener, you have opportunities to improve your gardening skills and acquire new skills and experiences you can apply in other parts of your life. You will also meet other like-minded people and make new friends.
Fall is upon us, and with the changing of seasons and weather getting cooler we also have an election and are still in the midst of COVID….one sometimes wonders where peace and solace can be found. Many of us have social media that is full of nature posts, plant groups and more, but being on social media can be a double-edged sword, and “reality” seems to seep in even if you to selectively curate your content. Today I just want to remind you of what you probably already know, that the garden is a great “neutral” go to place!
No matter what your political leanings the garden just “is.” There is no political bickering to be had in the garden, no statistics about daily infection rates in the garden…..just the plants….being, existing, and turning the power of the sun into leaves, flowers and fruits (which is pretty awesome if you ask me!!). This time of year, many of us reconnect with loved ones and family, even if it is online or in a modified way and conversation can be tricky, especially this year! My suggestion? Turn to gardening! Perhaps get together some interesting gardening facts, take some beautiful photos of your plants to share, or share resources with your family members who garden, or who are thinking about gardening (for example: did they know that each county and state has a Master Gardener program that can answer their plant questions?).
Does your garden look a little rough around the edges from the summers heat, fire ash and smoke? If so it can make your “happy place” seem a little sad. Not to worry, the summer is hard on the plants just like it is on us, and this is the time to get in there in rejuvenate it! Plant those natives (in So Cal this is the ideal time to do it!), get a compost pile started or get some worms for vermicomposting! Thinking of putting your garden to bed for the fall? Maybe plant a cool season veggie garden instead! Cool season veggies are some of the most nutritious plants we can grow, and they are also so much more flavorful when grown at home. Not sure where to start? Join our class on Nov 14th “From the Garden to the Table” to learn about growing cool season veggies, sustainable landscaping and pest management and also hear from our Master Food Preservers to learn about making freezer jams. Thinking of turning your inefficient yard into a water wise garden? There is info on how to do that on the 14th in the afternoon as well.
Elections and politicians come and go, this pandemic will as well, .but keeping our sanity through it all is key to survival and the garden, small or large, is here to help with that. If you have an older family member who might not be able to get outside, or do much bending, consider getting a tv tray or table and set potted plants up on a bench for them to “groom.” Kids can be great assets in the garden, looking for pests and finding beneficial insects. They can also get drawn in to planting and harvesting their own crops so send them out to plant some sugar snap peas today! Head racing with the “what if's” that come with “adulting?” The garden can help you unpack your fears, thoughts, and concerns by giving you some quite time: just you and the plants…plants that do not judge or confront. Consider them a canvas for your mind: focus on the plants, get into a grooming, planting, or pruning task and just let your mind go. You will find yourself thinking about this and that and the other thing, but your will also start to notice the different colors of green you see, maybe a pollinator flying by or a bug you've never seen before or a flower that is only 1cm wide, but is oh so beautiful, and all of these things will help your head and heart get centered again.
See the importance of gardening, but have questions? We are here to help answer your plant questions, from lawns to trees and peas to bees! Give us a call, or send us an email and unlike social media will stick to the plants and only the plants, giving you the tips and info you need to create and cultivate your own positive space!
Do you have citrus in your yard? This is the time of year that the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) is most active in San Bernardino County when trees are sending out their fall “flush” of new growth. Asian Citrus Psyllids (also called ACP) spread the bacteria that causes citrus greening disease (also called HLB, Hunaglongbing). While this bacterium does not harm people is deadly to citrus (all types from kumquats to grapefruit and everything in between).
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure available to the public for HLB spread by the ACP. The only way to control the disease is to reduce the spread of ACP and be vigilant about removing trees that are infected or near infected trees. Keeping ants out of your trees is a great first step to protecting your trees from ACP and other pests. Since ants protect pests that excrete sugar solution from beneficial predators like lady beetles, praying mantis and syrphid fly larvae, keeping them out gives these “good bugs” a chance to help keep ACP out. Another key step to preventing the spread of HLB and ACP is to remove all stems and leaves from citrus you are going to share and to wipe fruit off to keep ACP from hitching a ride on fruit or plant material. To learn more about the ACP/HLB complex, view a map of its spread, and watch a four-minute video visit: https://ucanr.edu/sites/ACP.
Thanks to a wide array of UC ANR scientists for sharing the following photos.
Symptoms: An early sign of infection are chlorotic (yellow) leaves.
Remember that yellow leaves may also be due to nutrient deficiencies and it is important to recognize the differences. While nutrient deficiencies result in a consistent yellowing pattern on both sides of the leaf, HLB causes blotchy yellow areas that are asymmetrical (different on the right and left side of the leaves), although these symptoms can take 9 months to several years to show up in an infected tree. The delay in visual symptoms is the reason it is very important not to share any citrus cuttings with friends and family. A healthy-looking tree can still be infected. There are clean sources of cuttings (budwood) available through the Citrus Colonial Protection Program (CCPP: https://ccpp.ucr.edu/)
Later Symptoms: Misshapen fruit, with an asymmetrical midline and discolored malformed seeds. These fruits, while not harmful to us, will be bitter and inedible.
An early sign of ACP infestation are leaves that have a “notch” (indicates ACP feeding) or larvae that create waxy tubules.
ACP life stages: The adult is about the size of a half a grain of rice and feeds at a 45-degree angle which is a distinguishing feature from other common citrus pests. The juvenile (nymph) phase is golden in color, with bright red eyes and can be found on the new growth (flush) of citrus leaves.
To learn more about the ACP/HLB complex, view a map of its spread, and watch a four-minute video visit: https://ucanr.edu/sites/ACP. Want to learn more or have questions? Attend our class on Nov 28th from 10:30 to 11:30 to learn more about this deadly pest. To register: http://mgsb.ucanr.edu/?calitem=494190